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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 20th May 2016 > The Egyptian Tourism Board

The Egyptian Tourism Board

Arbitrary detentions, torture, repression of the press and a failing economy have made Egypt a tinderbox

GREETINGS FROM

Photographs by VINCIANE JACQUET

THE DAY I arrived in Egypt in April, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi had just given two Red Sea islands, Tiran and Sanafir, to King Salman of Saudi Arabia, who was visiting Cairo to announce billions of dollars in aid and investment. The islands are in the Gulf of Aqaba, where both Israel and Jordan maintain ports, so the transfer of the land was strategically important. It was also a baffling and highly contentious gift that angered many Egyptians.

“Do we have any idea why he gave them, what his motivation was?” I asked Mohammed Zaree of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies. He replied, “Good question. No one knows.”

The next day, President Sisi gave a two-hour speech in which he defended his decision, saying the islands always belonged to Saudi Arabia, and prompted an uproar after a daring member of parliament tried to ask a question: “I did not give anyone permission to speak,” Sisi retorted. It set off a social media frenzy with a hashtag that translates to #Speech DoesNot Need Permission.

Friday prayers, the traditional time for demonstrations and protests, were tense that week. Hundreds gathered in the Giza area of Cairo, and police fired tear gas and live ammunition to disperse crowds that called for an end to Sisi’s rule. Police turned out in force to keep subsequent demonstrations in check and conducted raids to detain suspected activists.

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Friends and rivals for most of their lives, top Conservatives David Cameron and Boris Johnson are now in open warfare over Britain’s role in the EU. by Isabel Oakeshott.
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